The ice-cream story

I’ll be posting my second vlog on Enterprise Social Networking and Organizational culture next week. Meanwhile, I thought you’d enjoy a “cartoon-strip” about ESN. I was inspired by a fabulous post  on the blog – This Much We Know. It’s the ice-cream story.  Enjoy!


It was a Friday afternoon. Danny, Senior manager HR, went to the office pantry.
He realized that there was a lot of left-over ice-cream from a previous
office event.


Danny went back to his cubicle and quickly opened up ToyBook-
the company’s Enterprise Social Networking Platform.




And all the way in accounting….
In another building…
in a distant part of the toy kingdom…


Soon, it was 2pm

Slide07 Slide08

Other toys saw that Leonardo was having a great time.



They didn’t think he deserved all that ice-cream to himself so they decided to stop by at the pantry too.

Many toys from different parts of the company turned up and they had a great time enjoying the ice-cream.


Danny was very excited when he saw his colleagues post about the fabulous time that they had together !Slide14


So THIS…is the promise of ESN. Connection and the promise of collaboration regardless of distance and time. But does it actually pan out this way for organizations that have adopted ESN? Look forward to my next post! I’ll be sharing exploring examples from Tesla, Red Robin and an organization that shall not be named!

Stay tuned and have a fab weekend!


Many thanks to the blog This Much We Know for inspiring this. Do check out that blog for some great insights into personal branding, the social enterprise, the future of work, the power of curiosity and other things.


My boys for sharing their toys with me. This would not have been possible without their generosity.

Blogging IS the assignment!


I sometimes still pinch myself just to make sure that I’m not dreaming. I’m not! I am a wildcat. It’s amazing when things you dream, hope and pine for come true.

First quarter of dreaded winter term has begun. Dreaded because I am seriously a tropics gal, all this cold, ice, snowy isn’t really my thing. I love lying in the sun, toasty warm. So I was worried about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Worried that i’d wake up everyday weepy, unable to get my mind focused on anything, learn nothing from my courses and fail my classes. And you know what? Somehow winter has been mild this year. Thank you El Nino… =) Thank you for helping me ease into this cold…

Anyhow, i’m really excited about this new quarter. And can you believe, one of our assignments this entire term is to BLOG! To find our voice and experiment on digital presence.

I am so excited!

Of course, I’m suppose to blog on more serious stuff related to some of the theories and concepts we are learning about, but i really want to have fun with this. And I really want to VLOG! I’ve never done it before, except for a recent game that we had developed at work, when I made some videos as a makcik with a youtube channel. And it was such such fun! So i’m hoping I get to push myself a little more and get out of my comfort zone… which is obviously this random rubbish i spew on this blog…that some of you are so kind to read. *muacks*

So stay tuned yar….

Oh by the way, I also moved my blog onto a Northwestern Uni wordpress related site. Think it was time to say bye-bye to blogger… AND it’s one of those things i do that’s akin to pinching myself. It makes this experience more real to me….I’m trying to savour ever precious moment.

Till later folks…and oh yar, to my #msloc430 classmates who are reading my blog for the first time….WELCOME TO THE PAR-TAAAYYYY!!!!

What I hope to achieve over the next 2 years…

I’ve been thinking long and hard about whether I want to share what I hope to achieve over this next two years with you. While I’m excited to share them, so that you can help me be accountable to the goals I’ve set, I’m also afraid of raising your expectations of me. I’m afraid I will disappoint you, my family and most of all, I’m afraid of letting myself down.

But I figure, starting off this journey fearing that I will not achieve all that i hope to, isn’t quite ideal. This is the beginning of a journey of possibilities for me and therefore I should be dreaming big, hoping for the best. Most of all, I intend to work towards achieving all my goals.

And I think you, and just this simple process of journaling, will help keep me on track. Hold me accountable to these, will you?

So, here goes.

I am here in Evanston, Illinois attending a 2 year Masters in Learning and Organizational Change at Northwestern University. I have 3 main goals I hope to achieve:

First, I intend to deepen my knowledge and practice of Organization Development (OD) in service of….

  • Myself… I wish to learn more about myself, to clarify my own philosophy and style of leadership. To learn how to work more effectively in teams. To be clear about what gifts I bring to a team and how I can contribute to the effectiveness of the team.
  • CSC and the public service… I want to equip myself with the knowledge and skills that will help me support the Civil Service College (CSC) and our mission and vision. As a (pretty) long-time member of the public service (a total of 12 years this October! Woot!), I also want to return to Singapore better able to support the public service in our organizational efforts to deliver good policies and services to citizens.
  • The community…I want to be able to help non-profit organizations, specifically Muslim organizations in Singapore that need OD support and interventions. Why? I think that the safety and security of my children’s future lies in the ability for Singapore to maintain, or even improve, the quality of racial and religious tolerance and understanding that currently exists. Given the way our social- programs are structured, Malay Muslim organizations, including the mosques, play a critical role in engaging Muslim youth, providing social, education and financial assistance. I would like to be able to support these organizations, so that they can be effective in what they do and hopefully reduce the likelihood of disenfranchised Muslim youths Singaporean.

Second, I hope to spend quality time with my husband and children in a way that will…

  • Strengthen our marital bonds. To discover how we can better support and love each other as we face new challenges. To renew our trust in each other, and to re-discover the comforts of companionship that led us towards each other in the very beginning.
  • Nurture the relationship between my children and I, in way that helps us better communicate,  share our experiences and seek comfort, support and help from each other.
  • Nurture my children’s independence, sense of adventure and curiosity for cultures, different from our own.

Finally, to seek and nurture friendships and community.

I’d like to make friends, not just from the US, but from around the world. I would also like to nurture
the friendships and kinship ties that we have in Singapore. I want my children to learn that family and friendship is a connection that transcends physical distance, that our family and friendship ties can be just as strong even though we are on the other side of the world. All it takes is an effort to stay connected.


I know I can do it, I just have to return to this list to remind myself of what I have set out to do during my time here. Check in and recalibrate to ensure I’m on track. It’s important that I focus, because these 2 years will fly by. And if I’m not careful, the 2 years will end, I have a degree scroll in hand, but have I really made the most of the time and opportunity that has been gifted me here? I am not going to regret that I didn’t make the most of this privilege and opportunity I have been accorded.

Wish me luck, better yet- help me out and check in on me once in a while, will you?

Reflections of an Aspiring OD Practitioner

Those of you who know me well, would know that I am passionate about building my experience and finesse as a facilitator.

I’m absolutely comfortable facilitating learning or helping participants at workshops to consolidate learning. I’ve been practicing for some years now and feel quite confident that I am fairly competent at it. I’ve very much tried not to shy away from ANY opportunity to practise and I’ve been immensely lucky that many have been so generous with their trust and confidence in me.

What I’ve been very new at, in terms of facilitation, is in the area of facilitating large group conversations around, and with the objective, of improving performance, team effectiveness and culture building. In Organisation Development (OD) type conversations and interventions, I have very little experience.

What I had quickly learnt during a recent stint in OD, was that I found it immensely difficult and challenging work. I found that every time I began a journey working towards an OD intervention with a particular team or organisation, that I very quickly got ‘sucked into’ the issues. For example, when interviewing staff who are demoralised, I tend to start mirroring their feelings. I start feeling demoralised too. If they share their anxiety, it’s as if I adopt their anxiety as my own. And i’m not even part of the organisation but yet, it becomes my own problems. Enough, that it would affect my sleep.

And in my reflections with my own teams, I learnt that I was hyper sensitive to body language, voice tonation of the people I worked with. I read people very quickly, I get a sense of the energies in the room, the tensions between people and it affects me to a large extent. It turns out, I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) 

According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. 

So I get overwhelmed…very easily (Those of you who have gone partying with me know this very well. It is the answer to why Iva is behaving like she’s drunk/high, when she hasn’t had a drop of alcohol to drink). The OD work I’ve done can be very exhausting, and taxing in a very personal way. 

So, when I completed my posting/secondment to my previous organisation, I had kinda sworn to myself, no more facilitating OD type interventions. I wanted to stay in my happy-place. I didn’t want to get sucked into any more downward spirals.

But when I was approached to do this OD assignment that I completed today. I found that, despite my vow to myself just some months ago, I felt compelled to accept it. It was for an organisation that I cared for very deeply. This was about a family I have grown to love and appreciate very much. It was very much, very very much, personal.

A friend who shared with me about HSPs and told me to read the book about it, shared with me that people like me may have what it takes to be really good OD practitioners. Because very often, we look at organisational issues and challenges and tackle it with our heads. But really good OD practitioners are able to connect, emotionally too. They also use the power of their hearts, to move teams, to move organisations and to create…something. I somehow, never quite believed him.

He explained that what people like me needed to learn, was how to take care of myself. To protect my inner-self. So that I would be able to distance the work that I do with from my own personal life. That, surely, I am nowhere close to mastering.

Reflecting on what we had achieved today, which to some may not have been astoundingly much, but to us, great nonetheless, I did not regret my decision to accept this particular OD assignment. 

Although I wasn’t the lead facilitator, it sure felt great, to be connected to a mission, a purpose and a bunch of people I care very much for. It felt wonderful to feel in service and in support of what they hoped to achieve. 

And it didn’t feel emotionally taxing at all, although I did well up in tears twice today. Because I was so open to the experience, I wanted to embrace the feelings, downwards or upwards, fully. I wanted to be fully open. And I was prepared to being vulnerable about how important this day was to me. And how I had hoped it was just as important to them. I had a personal stake in this. 

My experience today made me reassess the promise I had made to myself to never facilitate any more OD interventions. It’s planted a belief that I should make ONE exception. I should make an exceptions for organisations, teams that I truly believe in and care for. For this is really meaningful work.

And don’t we all aspire to be part of a little bit of GREATness!